Attrition: Snakes on a Plane Bring F-16 Down


July 15, 2007: Apparently, a poisonous insect or snake in the cockpit brought down a Dutch F-16 in Afghanistan last August. After a 11 month investigation, that ended up as the only plausible explanation for the loss. The dead pilot did not eject, and radioed a brief "Mayday" to his wing man (flying about four kilometers away), before the aircraft went out of control and crashed into a mountain below. Ground crews have found poisonous spiders, scorpions and snakes around aircraft on the ground, and, in a few instances, inside the aircraft.

The wreckage, and what was left of the body, were carefully examined, and many simulations were run to explore various other explanations. The most likely one was an unexpected poisonous bite at 32,000 feet.


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